Under Chief Executive Peter Muriungi’s reins, Chase Auto has proved resilient, despite a pandemic that changed the landscape of car buying.
The lender’s fourth-quarter 2020 originations increased 29% year over year to $11 billion, with full year originations climbing 13% YoY to $38.4 billion, according to JP Morgan’s fourth-quarter earnings presentation. Chase’s outstandings also increased 8% YoY to $66.4 billion.
Chase’s success at the end of 2020 followed record originations in the third quarter, which clocked in at $11.4 billion, a 25% YoY increase.
Eying the future, Chase in January formed a private-label partnership with electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian. Rivian Financial Services is set to launch prior to deliveries in June of Rivian’s R1T pickup, and will allow customers to apply for financing online and receive decisions in minutes. Chase also has a longstanding private-label arrangement with Subaru Motors, which it again extended in October 2020.
When Muriungi hits the road, he recalls his Kenyan roots behind the wheel of a Land Rover. “I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, [where] Land Rovers are the car of choice; you’re hitting the road, and off-roading and things like that,” Muriungi told Auto Finance Excellence. “Growing up watching safari rallies and off-roading, that created an impression that stayed with me.”
Muriungi has held various leadership roles at Chase in his more than six years at the company. Before being named Chase Auto’s chief executive a year ago, he was head of products and transformation. Muriungi also led servicing and mortgage banking at Chase for four years, and served in 2013 as senior vice president of operations, according to LinkedIn. Muriungi spent much of his career in mortgage lending before joining Chase.
AFE asked Muriungi five questions to learn about his goals for Chase auto, the advice he lives by, the inspiration for his leadership style, and a surprising fact his colleagues may not know about him.
Auto Finance Excellence: What are your company goals in about 10 words or less?
Peter Muriungi: To create the most convenient, transparent, trustworthy financing process in the universe.
AFE: What is your favorite piece of leadership advice you ever received?
PM: Leadership is not so much what to do, it’s how to do it and what it takes to know how to get done what you need to get done. It’s a function of clarity and getting folks focused and committed to a specific goal.
More importantly, in order to create clarity and focus, the statement that I keep in mind is that the question is almost never what’s important, because a lot of things are important. The question is almost always: What are the fewest things that we can focus on that will make the biggest difference? That drives where I put my energy to in my career: Sometimes it’s people, sometimes it’s technology, sometimes it’s customer experience, sometimes it’s transformation. But, in order to guide where my energy is to be pointed, I try to answer that question.
AFE: Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
PM: I don’t know that I can pick one person. I try to find the best qualities in folks that I look up to and learn the most I can in terms of those qualities. Over the years, it’s been different things from different people.
I’ve learned a lot from leaders whose ability to focus I have admired. I intentionally find the best in folks that I admire and learn from that.
AFE: What do you think is the most underrated lending trend?
PM: In auto lending, specifically, what might be underrated is the importance of transparency in auto finance. I think we may have underestimated that, you know, do customers know what the best rate they can possibly get is in auto, just as easily as they could in home lending? Is a customer able to tell the best price they can get for their used car? True transparency: I think it’s probably something that we might be underrating a little bit in terms of how efficient it could make our business.
Things like, what is the real value of aftermarket products, and is there some efficient way for everybody to know? Over time, that just makes for a much more efficient market, because customers can make choices quickly without worrying about whether they’re making the right one.
AFE: What’s something your employees would be surprised to learn about you?
PM: I think folks who don’t know me well are really surprised at how easygoing I am. In my life outside of work, I have very little structure. I like to keep things open and do what I want to do and not put in too much planning and structure. So, my one rule, for example, on vacations is I don’t want to have a plan of what my day ought to look like. I just want to do whatever it is that comes. If you work with me in a professional setting, I’m very focused on goals and execution and planning. In my personal life, I try to not do that.
Auto Finance Innovation Summit, the premier event for technology in auto finance, returns March 16-17, 2021, as a virtual experience. The virtual experience will offer the quality networking and education of past events, all through an online platform. To learn more about the 2021 event and register, visit www.AutoFinanceInnovation.com.